hummus appeared in my family’s kitchen in the early 90’s. baba brought the taste back from his travels around the middle east. i should ask mama where she got the recipe, for this is before the time that the world wide web became part and parcel of our daily existence. in london baba would take us to beirut express. their hummus has an assertive tahini character and is finished with a pool of olive oil , chopped flat leaf parsley and some whole chickpeas. hummus has become ubiquitous. it has global allure and everyone seems to be eating it. the brit’s will even eat it in sandwiches or wraps for office lunches. it crops up with crudities at parties and cocktail receptions. the real problem though is that most of this hummus comes from little plastic tubs from supermarkets and tastes awful. my home-made version is rich in tahini and will find itself adorned with herbs and spices like cumin, sumac or zaatar.
for a long time i resisted playing around with the tradition composition of hummus. this is because there is a remarkable symphony between the handful of ingredients that composes it. interestingly hummus is the arabic word for chickpeas and therefore only refers to part of the whole. the full name for the spread that we call hummus is actually ‘ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna’ (essentially chickpeas with tahini). there are other variants of hummus such as hummus ful which is made with fava beans and hummus musabaha that includes whole chickpeas and cumin. and then there is the artichoke hummus that terry glover makes tartines from at the london review bookshop’s cake shop.
the texture of it is coarser than hummus because of the artichoke. the base of the tartine is toasted sourdough which bears a thick spread of the hummus. a smattering of bright jewel like pomegranate seeds appear on top with a tangle of rocket leaves on the side. it is a combination that has the symphony of hummus bi tahini but with a refreshing almost lemony taste. i’ve had it on my mind for so long that this sunday i just had to make a version of it.
one can of chickpeas, drained
two tablespoons tahini
two or three tablespoons of cold water
the flesh and skin of a preserved lemon, roughly chopped
one hundred and seventy grams grilled artichokes in olive oil
a generous pinch of sea salt
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
a few fronds of dill, chopped
a handful of pomegranate seeds
sumac to sprinkle
a couple of slices of sourdough
start by placing the drained chickpeas in the bowl of your food processor. blitz them until they are well broken down. now add the tahini and process for a couple of seconds. next add the salt and the chopped preserved lemon taking care to remove any seeds beforehand. break it down in the food processor.
keep the food processor running as you add the cold water a tablespoon at a time. you need to add enough to give a spreadable consistency. i used two tablespoons.
add the artichokes and pulse them into the hummus. you want to them to breakdown a little bit. this is not intended to a smooth paste.
i would recommend making the artichoke hummus a couple of hours ahead of eating it. let it sit at ambient temperature. this helps the flavours to get to know each other.
when you are ready to serve slather the hummus into a shallow bowl and use the back of a spoon to spread it to the shape of the bowl. sprinkle on the dill and pomegranate seeds and finish with a generous trickle of olive oil and a dusting of sumac.
serve with toasted sourdough. this hummus would make a welcome addition to a mezze platter as well.